Solution to Qld doctor contract crisis 'on the horizon'

17 April, 2014

After recent days of detailed negotiations involving all the key stakeholders, a possible resolution to the Queensland public hospital doctor contract crisis is on the table, according to Federal AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton.

Dr Hambleton said in a statement on Tuesday (April 15) substantial progress was made last week in negotiations between the Queensland government, the AMA, AMA Queensland (AMAQ), the Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation (ASMOF), ASMOF Queensland (ASMOFQ), the Together union, and the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Taskforce regarding employment arrangements for SMOs and Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs).

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced on Monday April 7 the government had conceded additional provisions needed to be worked through the contracts themselves.

"Out of this, the patients of Queensland will be the real winners," Springborg told reporters last week.

Dr Hambleton said the doctor representative groups all shared a common goal, which was to achieve "fair and balanced" contracts during negotiations with the government.

"The AMA and AMAQ acknowledge the constructive approach taken by Minister Springborg and the Director General of Queensland Health, Mr Ian Maynard, to these negotiations," he said.

"We recognise the genuine efforts by everyone during these negotiations to address the concerns held by SMOs and VMOs with the proposed contracts, including the overall framework governing SMO and VMO contract arrangements.

"The Minister's decision to introduce amendments to the Hospital and Health Boards Act and his announcement of a revised offer last week provided much needed momentum, resulting in productive discussions over Thursday and Friday last week.

"Based on last week's negotiations, the AMA and AMAQ are now of the 'in principle' view that a satisfactory resolution of our concerns with proposed contracts has now been reached.

"It is important to emphasise that this is still subject to the finalisation of relevant documentation, so that it faithfully reflects matters agreed on Friday.

"The next 'Pineapple' meeting of SMOs and VMOs is planned for Wednesday night and, with all parties working hard to finalise the relevant documents, we should be in a position to advise that meeting that the AMA and AMAQ are satisfied with the proposed contracts, associated directives and negotiation framework, including the Contract Advisory Committee and agreed arbitration arrangements.

"In relation to the matter of mass resignations, we emphasise that the AMA and AMAQ have not been a party to this strategy. Given latest developments, we believe that mass resignations will not be required, provided the final documents match what was agreed on Friday.

"The AMA and AMAQ also welcome the extension of the deadline for SMOs and VMOs to sign their contracts, announced today by the Minister.

"This is a sensible decision that allows Queensland Health additional time to ensure that the contracts are issued correctly, and it provides SMOs and VMOs with an appropriate period to consider and negotiate the final details of their contract with their Hospital and Health Service."